Having an ostomy at 17 put doubt in my mind about finding that special someone.

Somehow I forgot that the most important relationship I will ever have is the one with myself.

This post appeared on Ostomy and Me.

Becoming an ostomate at age 17 (which let’s face it, is prime time for boyfriend/girlfriend relationships) did put some doubt in my mind about "finding someone." All of my friends either: had a partner, were dating, or were enjoying the single life without actually ever being alone. Then there was me. Doubled-over in pain and longing for another painkiller while awaiting my doctors’ next order.

Truth be told, after my surgery, I didn’t look at my Chait tube until I was completely alone.

And it was at the very least the second day after I had cecostomy surgery. I had to have this time to reflect and try to let it sink in, that my body will never be the same both internally and externally. I will forever be changed in some light, no matter how many times my parents tried to tell me, “You’re still the same person.” Nobody goes through what I have been through and comes out the same as they were before. It will either make you or break you. Looking back, it’s safe to say that I’ve definitely come out on top!

For the next six months, I battled with my body image and my mental state. I appeared to be happy and “better” on the outside to everybody, but when I was alone at home in the confines of my bedroom walls I was empty, confused and angry at the world. Of course, the only person that could see right through me was my mother, who let me have my time to grieve and get over myself. To understand that I was the one who battled through it all and that there is nothing that anybody else could say to me to make me feel any better. Time. Time was what I needed. Time was what I was given—in every which way of the word!

I now accept that I’ve been through absolute hell and back more times than I’d like to remember.

I was given a death sentence; misdiagnosed more than anybody ever should be, unfortunately fell through the system, and have been forgotten by medical practitioners and specialists… but I’m still here. I’ve had days where I wanted to rip my Chait tube out (in the beginning, most definitely not now! I love my ostomy!) and the thought of looking at myself in the mirror made me depressed, feel ugly and I couldn’t stand the sight of myself. I have felt my body waste away, and have had days where I couldn’t walk more than ten steps without breaking down into tears from sheer exhaustion and pain.

I didn’t want to be touched, I hated being close to somebody no matter who they were or how long I had known them for. I wanted to be left alone and be by myself. Today I appreciate my body and my mind for all it has gone through. I can squat and deadlift more than my body weight, I’ve run a half-marathon and have such a great close circle of people around me.

I was once ready to give up on the world. I wanted out.

To sleep forever and to be rid of all the pain, mental struggle and the hurt that came with my surgery and my change in lifestyle. Today, I wake up every day and live a life that is far from empty and dark. Before, I could not stand the thought of talking about my medical condition or my thoughts. I was a closed book, unable to come to terms with my own issues and was not ready to share them with anybody else. Now, I am an open book. Nothing is off limits.

I know I’m not alone when I say that I’ve struggled to find a ‘significant other’ at the best of times. It’s as though I searched and searched, only to find myself looking blankly at disappointment and heartache on every corner. But then we find someone who we actually want to share moments with, to be in the same room with for longer than an hour and who we can bare our souls to. 

It was through the failed relationships (both partners and unfortunately best-friends), heartbreak and being used that I found myself again. I’m pretty sure this goes for everybody - whether you’re healthy or have an existing medical condition like myself - that acceptance is something that we all desire. We long to be recognized for our inner workings, for someone to appreciate our quirkiness and individual – what makes us all unique and true to ourselves. But how can we expect anybody to feel that way, if we don’t feel that way about ourselves?

I am the strongest person I know, with ambition, drive, and motivation like no other. I am the hardest working person I know and I give my all or nothing to everything and anything I apply myself to. I am worthy of a fulfilling life and I will never settle for anything less.

In the past few years, I have experienced a lot of change. Some of it good, some of it bad and some of it… I still don’t know how to feel about. I had to change my attachment to people because it became all too clear that some people no longer served me and I valued our friendship more than they did.

So today, I ask you as you read this to think of WHO you are and WHAT you deserve. Find yourself and the rest will follow.